Saturday, June 30, 2007

A fan letter made her an empress!

Iulia Domna, the daughter of an obscure priest of Baal in faraway Syria, became a Roman empress as the result of one mushy fan note.

The eighteen-year-old girl was both plain and poor. She was a provincial in a backward part of the Roman empire. But again the power of a woman must never be underestimated.

In the year 186 A.D., Iulia sat down and wrote a curiously girlish epistle to the Roman Governor of Lugdunum (Lyons) in France. The little schemer told the forty-one-year-old Roman – who had recently become a widower – that she had heard of his bereavement. “I consulted an astrologer,” she remarked brightly, “and had a horoscope prepared which shows that I am destined to become a queen. Marry me,” she added, “and you will share my fate and be king some day.” This na├»ve logic appealed to the superstitious Roman whose name was Septimius Severus. He made Iulia his wife the following year.

Six years later Septimius became Emperor of Rome and Iuliabecame in fact his empress. Her son Caracalla succeeded his father on the Roman throne and two of her nephews – Alexander Severus and Elagabalus – succeeded to the imperial throne. Superstition and naivete were the two rungs on which Iulia climbed to the dizzying of a throne.